The summer after high school offers a lot of possibilities for incoming NCAA athletes, but especially for baseball players. Baseball is the only sport out there with organized summer leagues for players to compete in, such as the Cape Cod League and the Coastal Plains League.
Graduated players can choose to play with their travel teams or American Legion, or simply do individual work on their own or with coaches.
Sometimes, players go right from high school to the collegiate ranks, even just days removed from their last varsity appearance.
Right-handed pitcher Joe Simeone, a UConn signee, pitched in his final game for Groton-Dunstable Regional High School on June 7 and was playing for the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League just two days later, notching the save. He allowed one hit and struck out a batter.
“It’s awesome,” Simeone said. “It’s fun to learn from older guys and get ready for the fall.”
His former, current and future teammate, infielder Christian Fedko, finished up his high school career in Pennsylvania and came to back to Massachusetts, where he played travel ball with Simeone for North East Baseball.
“It’s different,” Fedko said. “The game is a little faster at this level but it’s a ton of fun getting to play with the older guys.”
The Huskies had four MLB Draft picks in 2017 and have a track record of getting players into professional baseball under current head coach Jim Penders, influencing players like Fedko and Simeone to come to Storrs.
“They have a good reputation for getting guys in the pros,” Fedko said. “That’s one of the main reasons why I chose to go to UConn over some other schools.”
Simeone has a delivery with a lot of moving parts, which can certainly be coached into being more fluid. With just a few days at Wachusett, his delivery looked improved from his high school days.
“I’ve been working on some stuff, so it’s feeling a little better,” he said.
They are also playing alongside three current UConn players in infielder Conor Moriarty (Pittsfield), outfielder Troy Stefanski (Martha’s Vineyard), and Jake Wallace (Bristol) in the Futures League.
“I’ve talked to Conor Moriarty,” Fedko said. “They always come up to Joe and me to say ‘what’s up?’. They’re all really friendly.”
To end June 13’s game against Bristol, Simeone struck out Ben Maycock, who was one of the last cuts last year but is attempting to stay in the fold with the Huskies.
“It was definitely fun,” he said. “I know I’m going to face him a bunch more times in the fall. It’s cool because I know he was a really good player.”